The Alumni Association will honor 18 NC State professors on May 5 for their outstanding work in the classroom, in the laboratory and in the field. We talked (via email) with some of the recipients about their work and the keys to being a successful professor.
Today we’re visiting with Kofi Boone, an assistant professor of landscape architecture in the College of Design. Boone is one of four recipients of the Alumni Association Outstanding Teacher Award.
What is the key to being a successful teacher? I try to look at “success” in the short and long term. In the short term, I try to establish trust with my students. I want them to believe that we can collectively become co-teachers and co-learners. The course is a collaboration with the intent of addressing critical issues. Rather than position myself as an expert and them as novices, I try to focus everyone on the goals and objectives of the course and create avenues for the students to feel empowered to impact the content and delivery of the course. In the long term, it is observing the application of key class lessons in their subsequent academic and professional careers. That long-term view is something I value very much, and I think is something we can do a better job of valuing.
What gives you the greatest satisfaction as a professor? Linking research, teaching and extension through a student’s academic experience. That link is difficult to make, and perhaps not appropriate in every course. But in the advanced courses, where the objective is to test with the students emerging research in critical areas … that I think is a key mission of teaching at the college level. Students continuously offer fresh perspectives and a willingness to take risks that enrich scholarship. Research offers a foundation from which to test new ideas, and a place to share results. Extension offers the imperative and forum for sharing best practices. Collectively, they can offer challenging, meaningful and impactful experiences for faculty and students.